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Are water borne finishing products more sustainable?

At Redwood, we’re heartened that more and more customers are asking us about the sustainability of their finishes. Their questions cover everything from packaging to disposal, but the core concern is with the finishes themselves. Is, say, a water-based lacquer less damaging to the environment than one with an organic solvent?  

The answer is simply “Yes!” The oil-based solvents which became popular in the last century release high concentrations of toxic chemicals during the drying process. A switch to water-based finishes will reduce your company’s environmental impact.  

To fill out the detail, we’ll look to the work of Hesse Lignal, the German finish specialists who supply much of our range. Hesse have decided to replace every one of their solvent-based products with friendlier alternatives.  

Delivering on that commitment will involve removing all the nitrocellulose lacquers, solvent-based stains and solvent-based, acid-hardening lacquers from their product range by the end of 2023, then going on to replace all their other solvent-based lacquers with sustainable alternatives by 2030. 

Their prime objective is the elimination of VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. VOCs are the chemicals that are causing all the trouble. They’re complex hydrocarbons that quickly boil off when old-fashioned finishes are applied, allowing the paint or varnish components dissolved in them to deposit onto the substrate.  

There’s no doubt that VOCs simplified the work of industrial chemistry, but they did so at considerable cost. They’ve been associated with eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination and nausea, damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system, and cancer. 

Hesse’s shift to water-based chemicals doesn’t completely eliminate VOCs from its range, but it will help reduce the company’s reliance on them – and it will help woodworking professionals to make choices that benefit the environment. 

Give us a ring to learn more how Hesse products from Redwood can help you reduce or eliminate VOCs from your production.